The number of children involved with child labor has taken a huge leap, one not seen in the last 20 years: 160 million all over the world. The last four years alone account for 8.4 million of that overall figure. Given the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact, UNICEF and the International Labour Organization (ILO) warns that nine million more children could end up forced into child labor by 2022’s end.
The ILO released an executive summary called “Child Labor: Global estimates 2020, trends and the road forward”. It stated that children 5 to 11 years old count for nearly half the global figure overall. Additionally, children in hazardous work (jobs that can harm their morals, health, and/or safety) have gone up since 2016 to 79 million.
Child labor is more common with boys instead of girls no matter the age.
The gender gap narrows when you take household chores that are performed for at least 21 hours a week become part of the equation.
According to the report, 112 million or about 70 percent of children in child labor are in the agriculture sector. The other 30% is made up of services (31.4 million) and industry (16.5 million).
Another key part of the executive summary is a warning that nine million more children could be forced into child labor by 2022’s end. Without access to social protection coverage, which is critical, the number could go all the way to 46 million. This is all a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This alarming upward trend needs to be reversed. As far as both UNICEF and the ILO are concerned, there has to be sufficient social protection for everyone to get this done. That includes heightened spending on good-quality education that’s free, as well as universal child benefits. Other recommendations include ending harmful gender norms and promotion of decent adult work.